Indoor training platform is a dynamic space, with new entrants making their way into the business and the industry giants going to extreme lengths to stay on top of their game. Sufferfest and Zwift are some of the front-runners in the world of indoor training biking apps.
So, which of the two would come out on top if they were to go head to head? That is what I set out to help you find out in this Sufferfest vs. Zwift post. So let’s get right into the gist.
If you’re just starting out on indoor workout apps, there’s a good chance Sufferfest and Zwift are new names to you. Not to worry, here’s a quick glance at each of them to bring you up to speed before we dive into the details.
Also popularly known as Wahoo SUF, Sufferfest is a virtual platform with real-life personalized workouts with real-life cycling videos. But this training app has some history to it as the first one to create personalized exercise for individuals basing on their power profile instead of relying only on functional threshold power (FTP) but that’s not all…
…Sufferfest is also famous for its 4DP test, which is an hour-long test to determine the user’s aerobic power, neuromuscular power and anaerobic capacity.
Zwift is also a popular name in the indoor training space, covering the entire spectrum from casual spinners, weekend warriors, to dedicated cyclists. With over 3 million users, Zwift has amassed a phenomenal community as the app allows users to create group rides and meetups for a personal feel of their exercise.
That’s not the only bright side to Zwift, as it also offers other customizable features like a kit, changing shoes, hairstyle, and selecting the desired bike for your avatar. You also get colorful graphics that give the imaginary world of virtual biking a real-life touch. And just like similar riding platforms out there, Zwift offers a rich library jam-packed with training and workout plans.
Zwift Training Plans
Zwift offers a wide range of training plans from beginner to advanced options and everything in between. Whether you are new to virtual biking or a hardcore spinner, there’s something for you.
Beginner Training Plans
These are perfect for beginners who are just getting their toes wet or seasoned bikers making a comeback after an injury or break. And as you would expect, they are easy and more introduction-oriented but still cut out to offer a decent workout with reliable results.
This plan goes for one week and is more about breaking the ice at training you on the app’s interface. Here you will get several starter workouts, two short workouts, and a Ramp Test conducted somewhere in the middle of the week for testing your FTP before raving it hard on the longer plan.
This one goes for 4 to 6 weeks, requiring 5 hours per week. Here you will be focusing more on working on your sustainable aerobic power. But the main sessions here target endurance and tempo exercise. If you haven’t done any structured training plans yet, this plan is for you as the sessions are easy and short, mostly lasting only less than an hour.
Lasting between 3 and 4 weeks, this plan is best suited for those warming up for a longer ride as well as those who are just getting started with structured training. On this plan, you will be working mostly on tempo intervals and endurance, with a splash of working at your threshold and a bit more to enhance your fitness.
Intermediate Training Plans
After warming up with the beginner plans, you can dig deeper and go for the intermediate plans. The efforts are higher here, and so are the benefits.
Running for 5 to 6 weeks at 4 hours per week, this plan aims at hitting between 100 and 200 km. This is the real deal where you start building your endurance for long rides. It’s also a great plan for anyone who is in for a progressive approach or preparing for an upcoming event.
This is a long plan going for up to 7 to 12 weeks and requiring 5 hours each week. For those who love to push the limits beyond the end of the asphalt, this plan is for you. You will get the best that this plan has to offer if you come into it with a solid fitness foundation.
The gravel grinder is perfect for bikers who are preparing to participate in a gravel race, especially if done 5 to 8 weeks prior. You will also need it for cadence work, as well as combining hard work with recovery days.
Advanced Training Plans
These plans are over the roof in terms of intensity and benefits. But you need to have established a solid base with the previous ones to make the most out of these plans.
The Crit Crusher
Going for 4 to 8 weeks and needing 4 hours a week, this plan focuses on sprint and breakaway moves to prepare you for short races and cyclocross races. Although you won’t be facing high average stress points here, be ready for many hard and fast activities.
This plan lasts between 7 and 10 weeks and needs 7 hours each week. It is ideal for seasoned mountain bikers, and packs in high-intensity exercise as well as pealing drills that are sure to test your limits. The intensity here pretty much resembles that of a cross-country race so you should be primed for the challenge.
The TT Tune Up goes for 5 to 8 weeks at 7 hours per week. The plan demands significant commitment but gives you that boost to your top-end performance. If you are looking to excel in intensive races but you won’t be having any significant recovery periods, this plan will work wonders for you.
Is Sufferfest Better than Zwift?
The bottom line here boils down to what your condition is and what goals you have in mind. With Zwift, you get to workout alongside others, giving you the push you so much need if you don’t have the drive to keep pushing ahead.
Sufferfest, on the other hand, you will be more of a loner, but the app throws at you intensely focused and highly structured exercises. This makes it perfect for individuals who want to unlock their performance potential or realize their fitness goals.
With Sufferfest helping you concentrate on your goal and working towards it, and Zwift on the contrary taking the isolating nature of virtual indoor cycling out of the way, any card is worth pulling here. However, if you are goal-oriented or a rather “chaotic” session isn’t something up your alley, then definitely Sufferfest is the one for you.
So yeah, it's a tie for me here!
What Is Better than Zwift?
From races, unique routes, community engagement, group rides, endurance workouts, and a wide variety of more workout options and also a wide range of exercise machines that you can use(incline trainers like the Sole F63 or the Bowflex BXT6 if you use the Zwift RunPod, exercise bikes like the Nordictrack Vr21 or the Schwinn 270 and more), Zwift packs in just about everything you need to keep peddling. Then there’s the wide variety of plans that cover everyone from the beginner level to the avid bikers seeking to push their limits.
Nevertheless, with all the bells and whistles, Zwift isn’t alone on the market, and other training programs are better at other aspects that serve users better in different ways. One such option is the TrainerRoad app, which is a great alternative if you’re all about working on your fitness goals and realizing them in record time.
With an outstanding graphical interface that gives you all the metrics for tracking your progress and monitoring cadence, heart rate, and even power, this app takes your workout to a completely new level. What’s more, you’ll have 100+ training plans at your fingertips; just choose what best matches your preference and needs.
What Is the Best Cycling App?
With over a dozen apps out there to choose from, the quest to choosing the best one is no easy feat. Moreover, since each app has its perquisites and bummers, there’s no telling which one is the best of them all. Different apps are fine-tuned for varying needs.
Having checked out most of these apps, I have realized that the best app out there is the one that best suits your specific goal and keeps you motivated every step of the way as you work for it.
Some of the apps are recommended from the manufacturer like iFit or Peloton, these apps might work better with your exercise machine.
Also, if you find one that is easily controllable for accuracy, enables you to push the limits, and the features are up to snuff, go for it.
Does Sufferfest Change Resistance?
The short answer is, yes! However, you should note that Sufferfest offers two smart trainer models; the ERG mode and the Level Mode.
In the ERG mode, the trainer adjusts the power automatically, while in the Level mode; you have to shift the gears yourself. If you dig further afield, you will find out that there are also different resistance curves.
In the Level mode, you have a standard resistance curve that mimics the outdoors riding, in which case, if you go faster, the resistance increases too. This replicates the wind resistance in the outdoors where it feels like riding in the headwind when going fast.
How Do Both Apps Compare when It Comes to Price?
If the budget is what you’re more concerned about, then you don’t have a cause for worry. Both of these apps come with a similar price tag of $14.99 per month. However, there is one outstanding difference, in the trial period. With Zwift, you get a 7-day free trial, while Sufferfest offers double the time at 14 days of a free trial.
However, what Zwift misses in the free trial, the app makes up for with a free subscription for kids aged 16 years or under. Now that you know what to dish out when you click that buy button, what’s in it for you?
With Zwift, you get the following benefits.
- You can customize the avatars and bikes
- It offers a nice blend of solid riding and the training part thanks to the social aspect
- You have a high chance of catching the attention of pro teams
- A wide user base; you can always find someone to race with
With Sufferfest, you stand to enjoy these perks:
- You have a 4DP test for monitoring your progress
- With the help of the data, you can customize the workouts as needed
- Some offline workout videos are a nice touch too
- You get mental, strength, and yoga workouts as well
- It’s perfect for those who don’t need the social aspect of indoor training
What Are the Users Saying?
Both apps have seen their fair share of hail and criticism from their users, with Zwift being uplifted for the social aspect it offers, bringing onboard a drive for those who are not motivated to press on. The customer service is also great, and of course, the software is quite innovative at doing the calculations to speed up the user when on a downhill and slow them down on uphill rides.
However, on the flip side, there have been issues with the subscription, sometimes the system failing to recognize subscriber’s payments on time.
Sufferfest has been impressive to users thanks to its ease of use, and the challenge it throws at you. Besides, with this app helping the users focus on improving and attaining their fitness goals, it’s outstanding at keeping you on track with a variety of options for versatility. In addition, the customer support is friendly and responsive enough.
But it doesn’t come without a drag either. There have been claims of users ending up frazzled due to the high-intensity workout. Others have expressed dissatisfaction with the shipping.
Which App Is Beginner Friendly?
If you want to venture into serious indoor riding or coming back from an injury, then Sufferfest is the app for you. With its unlimited access to running as well as triathlon bike workouts, you will start on the right foot. You also get up to over 40 yoga sessions lasting up to 15 minutes each to enhance your core strength and flexibility.
Another great benefit of this app is that you get well over 100 training plans for cyclocross, triathlon, road cycling, and eSports as well as MTB, all ideal for athletes of all calibers. And the best part is, you can add strength training, yoga, and even mental toughness to any of your plans with a simple click of a button.
Which Is Better for Professional Cyclists?
Zwift all the way! This app stands out with its wide variety of training options and a social aspect that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other apps. Here’s the thing. It has also been a favorite of several pro cyclists like Boasson Hagen, Mat Hayman, and Cummings, and they are loving it.
As Cummings puts it, “you can train as normal with the feeling of the road, but indoors.” He also states that although this hasn’t changed his training habit, it has been helping get the job done as far as training goes. He adds, “I think I just stay on the trainer longer now with Zwift, so from that perspective it’s helped my turbo sessions.”
Hagen also emphasized the versatility of the app as one of the main reasons that have seen him take to online when training indoors.
The Bottom Line
While each of these apps has its outstanding features and benefits that give it the edge, both of them are innovative additions to the world of indoor training. They are taking the market by storm and helping virtually everyone from beginners to fitness gurus to pro riders make something out of their training sessions.
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